Okay. Now that you've been all up in my brain with my scaredy-cat feelings and my type-A planning tendencies, I'm sure you'd love to know the ups and downs of working on my recent styled shoot. Below are things that went REALLY WELL, as well as things that I could have done better. As Ben Sasso says, As you improve, we all improve. Community over competition, friends. :)

Things That I Succeeded At:

- The emails to vendors requesting their participation. I felt that they were straightforward, and worded well. Below is my text (feel free to use in part or in whole!): 

Hello! My name is Erica Leman, and I own and operate Sweet Alice Photography (www.sweetalicephotography.com). I am reaching out to you to see if you would be interested in participating in a styled bridal photo shoot during the month of February. This would consist of a model, two to three stylists, and I using your space to create beautiful photographs for your use. You would be welcome to use these images for marketing, advertising, and social media. Please let me know your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

- The collaboration. While I had originally envisioned this as being a smaller shoot (simply because I hadn't even considered that this could grow to include the amount of vendors that it did), I was open and welcoming to the philosophy of "the more, the merrier." This is my own personal accomplishment, but it is worth mentioning, as how well you work with your vendors will determine the type of business you attract in the future - both in the types of people and the volume. If you are close-minded, it is safe to say that you will (1) not get many referrals, and (2) if you do get referrals, they may not be the type that you want. I'm not saying that others should be given free reign to take over your shoot, but collaboration, cooperation, and compromise are always good choices in my book.

- Going the extra mile. I overprepared for this - and I'm so happy and proud I did. Everything for this shoot was ready for days in advance. Not only did this pertain to my gear, but also to my studying of poses and educating myself on anything that I thought might be helpful the day of the shoot. Going the extra mile trickled all the way down to my attitude - I was determined to be happy and excited. I didn't get the best night's sleep the night before the session due to not feeling well. I could have let this make me cranky. But I didn't. I, and everyone else, had already put too much effort into this shoot for me to show up with my grumpy pants on. 

- The vendor gifts. Although all of us pitched in and volunteered our time and efforts for this shoot, I still felt that everyone deserved to be recognized, and get a little treat on the day of the event. So, what did I do? Traipsed right into Target, bought some mad cute stuff, and created goodie bags full of coffee, granola bars, adorable notepads, and thank you cards with all of the participants' information. This was such an exciting little spark of encouragement to all of the dear ladies who participated. Seeing their faces light up at the sight of an unexpected gift was my favorite part of the day.

- The vendor portraits. I made it a point to take photos of all of the vendors involved. So often, we see the magic in front of the camera, and I wanted to make sure that I captured the magic souls behind the camera. Things like this are important.

Things I Could Have Done Better:

- Adding a coordinator or planner to our vendor team. Did I love planning this alongside our other vendors? Yes. Could I have loved it just as much if turned over to a planner or coordinator. Absolutely yes. Trying to tie up some of the last-minute details was a little more difficult to manage than expected. Did I do it, and was I happy to do it? Yes! But it would have been nice to have a second set of hands.

- Adding a second shooter to our team. As this shoot became so large, I began to worry about what would happen if I was stuck in traffic or caught the flu or twisted my ankle (I have a pretty active and ridiculous imagination). By the time I asked my regular second shooter if she would like to join, she was already booked. I'll be reminding myself to bring her (or another friend!) on board at the start of planning the next time something like this is being created.

- The vendor portraits. Although I loved, loved, loved capturing our darling vendors in their natural state, some of them didn't love that they didn't have makeup on or a cute outfit. I get this. Mental note: next time, heads up on the makeup.

Thanks for taking the time to read my little three-part series on creating a styled shoot. You guys are the best. ::air hug::

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Part 1: Feel the Fear

Part 2: So, You Want to Plan a Styled Shoot...

Part 3: As You Learn, We All Learn

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Curious about the wonderful people I've bragged on above? All of the amazing vendors who were a part of this day are listed below. You can also find most of them on my Friendors page.

Venue: Basilica Hudson

Hair: Divine Appointment Salon

Makeup: Annaliese & Co

Gowns: Chamonix Bride, featuring Alvina Valenta + Watters

Models: Katie Parent + Emma Woliver

Rings: Zimmer Brothers

Accessories: Chloe + Isabel

Florals: Trapped in the Attic

Rentals: Rustic Robin Boutique Rental and Design + Hudson Valley Ceremonies

Cake: Flour Love

Invitation Design: Down to the Bay Designs

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